Citizenship: The Cactus Channel
The Australian Government isn’t the only entity that puts people through a rigorous cross-examination to prove their loyalty to a bunch of stars and a Union Jack. Each week at M+N, we make an Australian act kiss the flag by asking them questions about their favourite local acts: who they’ve been listening to recently, their underground heroes, or whether they prefer Kylie or Dannii Minogue.
Taking the test this week are instrumental Melbourne outfit The Cactus Channel, whose debut LP Haptics is out now on HopeStreet/Fuse. The fresh-faced 10-piece start from a tight cross-section of funk and soul and explore much more from there.
a. Why is the band strictly instrumental?
It just happened that way, and now we're really digging the instrumental music we're making. One day there may be a singer, but we're in no rush.
b. The Cactus Channel formed out of a high school music program. Did any other good bands come out of your school?
Heaps of really great musicians have come out of Princes Hill. Project Puzzles are a smooth neo-soul band. Sex On Toast play '80s yacht-rock soul music. All good.
c. Tell us about your offshoot acts Karate Boogaloo and Emanuel Ciccolini’s Tex Mex Takeout.
Karate Boogaloo formed as a way for some of us rhythm-section guys to play all the Meters and Booker T & The MGs tunes we dig so much. Emanuel Ciccolini’s Tex Mex Takeout was started by guitarist Lewis Coleman so he could play all the rollicking surf/mariachi/Tex Mex/spaghetti western hits that he so loves.
d. Have some of Melbourne’s funk and soul bands taken you guys under their wing since you started out?
The PutBacks, The Bamboos and Deep Street Soul have all been really supportive of us. Everyone in the scene is all in it for the love of the music, so everyone digs what everyone else is putting out. It’s all a big funk/soul family.
Part 1. Geography
a. Tell us about your hometown.
Melbourne, Northside flavour. Excellent venues all around the place, great record stores and plenty of parks to go and play Frisbee after the jams.
b. Name your favourite bands from your neck of the woods.
The Bombay Royale, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, the aforementioned bands, Saskwatch and the army of excellent DJs around Melbourne keep the soul vibes on solid rotation.
c. Where’s your local and what’s it like?
Sydney Road has a bunch of excellent bars and pubs, a lot of which support live music, give young bands a go and are in convenient proximity to fantastic kebab joints.
Part 2. History
a. Which Australian bands did you grow up listening to?
Cat Empire and 1200 Techniques, amongst the great pub rock that is inevitably thrust upon everyone.
b. What’s the first Australian record you bought?
The Bamboos, Rawville.
c. Who’s your favourite Australian band/artist of all time?
Competition is too tight to call.
d. What’s the most “Australian” record ever produced?
Nikki Webster, ‘Strawberry Kisses’.
Part 3. Current Affairs
a. Who are some of your favourite new Australian bands?
The Bombay Royale has got it going on. Who’d have thought there would be a comeback of Bollywood funk, mixed with surf and break sensibilities? There are plenty of Aussie bands, especially from Melbourne, who are doing their own thing which people are digging.
b. If you could collaborate with one current Australian artist, who would it be, and what would it sound like?
The Wiggles. Seriously heavy.
c. Last great local gig you saw.
Saskwatch's last show at Cherry.
d. Do you think an Australian artist needs to go overseas to succeed?
Depends on what succeed means. I'm gonna say yes, because the world needs to hear the gold Melbourne is making.
Part 4. Multiple Choice
a. The Voice or Australia’s Got Talent?
PBS and Triple R.
b. Hungry Jacks or Red Rooster?
c. Northcote or Brunswick?
d. Potato cake or dim sim?
e. Dan Sultan or Dan Kelly?
f. Kylie or Dannii Minogue?
g. Cate Blanchett or Nicole Kidman?
h. Neighbours or Home & Away?
i. Cheezels or Twisties?
j. Kimbra or Gotye?
Kimbra is a fox. Sorry Gotye.
THE CACTUS CHANNEL NATIONAL TOUR
Fri, Aug. 24 – Junction Arts Festival, Launceston, TAS
Thurs, Sept. 20 – Great Northern Hotel, Newcastle, NSW
Fri, Sept. 21 – X&Y Bar, Brisbane, QLD
Sat, Sept. 22 – Swingin’ Safari, Surfers Paradise, QLD
Sun, Sept. 23 – Buddha Bar, Byron Bay, NSW
Thurs, Sept. 27 – The Heritage Hotel, Bulli, NSW
Fri, Sept. 28 – GoodGod Small Club, Sydney, NSW
Sat, Sept. 29 – Transit Bar, Canberra, ACT
Fri, Oct. 12– Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne, VIC
Sat, Oct. 13 – Rocket Bar, Adelaide, SA